Welcome back to #WhyIExercise. We hope that you had a blessed Thanksgiving with your families and loved ones! Please welcome our November spotlight, Mr. Josh Harris
Josh has been in education for almost 20 years. He is currently the Educational Technology Director for the Alisal Union School District in Salinas, California. Josh has also been an EdTech Specialist and middle school history teacher, as well as a ASL paraprofessional. Josh received his BA in History from SFSU, his teaching credential from CSUH, and his MA in Educational Technology from Touro University. He is also a Google Trainer and Innovator. Follow Josh on Twitter @EdTechSpec.
Please join us as Josh shares his #WhyIExercise journey.
#WhyIExercise . . . Josh
I am not a lifelong exerciser. I was a lifelong exercise avoider. I have been, and [sometimes] continue to think of myself as “a fat kid.” Bullying and body shaming never produced any change; fat has been who and what I was forever. I lived my life with that as part of me. I’ve lost and gained hundreds of pounds, but nothing permanent. In my head, Josh was, is, and will be fat.
In February 2017, three months after my 44th birthday, and a lifetime of being told, “you’re gonna get diabetes just like Grandpa/Nanny/Uncle Bernie/Grandpa Jerry/Uncle Jerry/Grandma,” the doctor finally told me that all those predictions had come to pass. Knowing what that disease had done to members of my family, I was...terrified. I was, at last, driven to change.
My doctor pointed out that I was a “good candidate” for bariatric surgery. This was another thing I’d actively avoided even considering. However, a cousin and a close friend who’d had the surgery and I had some real talk about it. I decided to move forward with surgery, but it’s not as simple as just saying yes. Kaiser Permanente (and most reputable bariatric programs) make you lose some weight before they will schedule surgery. In this case 10% of my highest weight in the last 12 months--for me, 42 lbs. Meaning, yes, I was about 420 lbs in February of 2017.
I had to face the nemeses all fat people face: Diet and Exercise. I set the goal of 5,000 daily steps, increasing by 2,000 per month until I hit 11,000--at first I used my iPhone to count steps, then I bought an Apple Watch. I knew I had succeeded in losing large amounts of weight following a high protein, high fiber, low carb diet, so I changed how I ate soon after. I let everyone in my life know what my new rules and goals were, making everyone either a passive or active ally in my new goal.
Food became, and is to this day, something I have to be mindful of everyday, at every meal. Exercise had to become a serious habit, movement like a compulsion. It had to become something I held myself accountable for, and reported out on social media so that people would notice if or when I had gotten lazy. The Apple Watch, a piece of technology I now love, helped in this more that I could have imagined. The constant feedback and reminders, the ability to check several metrics throughout the day kept me focused on my goal. Seeing me always working toward my movement and exercise goals motivated coworkers along with me.
By August 2017, I’d lost about 80 lbs and they scheduled my surgery for Sept. 11, 2017. On the day of surgery, I had lost 105 lbs. That was 5 lbs over my personal goal and really impressed the surgeon. The exercise changes were a massive factor, and were facilitated by all the support from friends, coworkers, and family. Today, I am 250 lbs lighter than I was.
I exercise now to never go back. I worked too hard, endured too many setbacks, and I enjoy what I have become too much to let myself go back. There is not always joy in the exercise itself, but there is joy in the accomplishment. There is joy in the ability to more easily do what was painful and exhausting before. There is joy in those that tell me I have inspired them into action. I exercise so all that doesn’t end.
Thank you so much, Josh, for sharing your journey. And it truly has been that . . . a journey. You are an example of dedication, perseverance, and the power of a loving and supportive support group. You have so much to be thankful for. #WhyIExercise is honored to have you as a guest blogger. Thank you for inspiring us to take our lives into our own hands and do the hard work to achieve.
May all of the #FitnessEdu, #FitLeaders, #RunLap, and other tribes find joy in the journey like Josh has.
#MuchLove . . . Marilyn ❤
As educators, we know the importance fitness has on both our bodies and minds. This blog is a celebration of educators and the role exercise plays in our lives.